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All reviews state rooms suits of armour audio guide tapestry room armoury museum large collection grand master amazing collection worth a visit heritage malta open to the public on display beautiful building knights of st john military history entrance fee maltese history
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Reviewed 5 weeks ago via mobile

We only visited the Armoury as the State Rooms we’re closed. I cannot recall seeing so many weapons in one place before. It really brought home the brutality of ancient warfare and the arduous conditions these knights had to endure.

Date of experience: October 2018
Thank G34DSmarkn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 weeks ago

I think the Grand Master’s Palace deserves a place on any itinerary for a visit to Malta, especially if you have any interest in history beyond that of WWII. When we visited we had a little trouble finding the entrance though. If you are heading down the main thoroughfare of Triq ir-Republika going away from the City Gate then you will find the entrance down the side street on your right as you get to Pjazza San Gorg where you can sometimes see sentries at what looks like the front entrance although this isn’t where you can go in. Alternatively if you are walking down the parallel Triq Il-Merkanti it will be the side street on your left and if you find you reach Camilleri & Sons store you will have passed it as we did and will have to backtrack a couple of streets.

Once you go through the gate go past the lovely round flower bed to find the ticket office a short walk beyond on the right and then head back around to the glass structure with stairs and a lift that you passed on the way – you need to go up to start your tour of the palace.

Most of the Grand Master’s Palace can be photographed albeit without flash and there are a number of really good heavily decorated halls featuring suits of armour and the portraits of the Grand Masters of the Order of St John. The ceilings too are heavily decorated and if you are a photography enthusiast you can choose the right line and work along a hall taking a series of vertical shots that you can later stitch together to show the full length of a ceiling.

A couple of areas were closed when we were there in April 2018 and although we were told at the ticket desk it might have been good to slightly discount the ticket price to reflect it but that doesn’t seem to be how things are done. Nevertheless we didn’t feel our visit was any less worthwhile and those areas that were open gave a very good sense of what life here would have been like. The whole palace gave a feeling of the continuity that the order must have provided during its administration of Malta. The Assembly Room for example with its 18th century furniture, paintings and murals depicting victories of the Order of St John conveyed a powerful sense of tradition and provided a reminder that for much of its existence this was primarily a military order of knights and the strong underlying sense of duty they must have had.

One slight disappointment was the tapestry room which should have been one of the highlights. No photography at all was allowed here even without flash and for no discernible reason, it’s just not allowed. If preservation was the reason it would be understandable and the lighting in this room is extremely dim but although the results might not be spectacular the speed of modern cameras would allow many visitors to capture memories here without any risk to the subject. In fact seeing it in your own photographs would be the only way to really appreciate what was seen in such dim lighting. We found it so subdued that it was actually hard to make out any worthwhile detail and if you’re unlucky enough to wear prescription sunglasses and don’t have an ordinary pair with you it wouldn’t be worth going in.

When you finally exhaust the rooms in this part of the building go back past the ticket counter and through a set of turnstiles. At this point the room on the right contains an extensive collection of armour, most of it displayed in cases with an array of cannon at the far end. The gallery to the left displays the pikes, crossbows, guns and more cannon barrels. There is enough here to thrill any enthusiast though for the casual visitor it’s probably just too much. Since much of it is cased a higher speed and a polarising filter is worthwhile to eliminate some of the reflections if taking photographs. As with most museums not enough thought has been given to photography and the placement of lighting when items are in glass cases.

There is a free audio guide in a variety of languages that is informative and easy to use with items in the galleries numbered. With a fairly keen interest in history I enjoyed the 2 hours or so I spent in the Grand Master’s Palace but my wife could only take so many suits of armour and there comes a point when one more sword is just too much with so many other things to see in Valetta and elsewhere on Malta. The full collection apparently holds over 5,000 suits of armour alone so only a fraction of the total number of items can be on display. Among the ones I found particularly interesting were La Valette’s breastplate worn during the Great Siege, a highly ornate suit with gold inlay made for Alaf de Wignacourt, some particularly rare examples of specialised armour and the more unusual examples like the heavy and almost comical helmets worn by some of the specialised infantry.

The Grand Master’s Palace is the grandeur and history of the Order of the Knights of St John in one building. I thought it well worth a visit and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. I hope this has been of some help should you be thinking of going to see it.

Date of experience: April 2018
1  Thank Geobar01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 October 2018 via mobile

Only some of the staterooms were open and we also visited the armoury. In the staterooms no audio guides were available and precious little assistance. There was next to no information about the rooms or the artwork, so without the audio guide we left none the wiser. Ironically the armoury, which was very interesting, did have audio guides available. However it also contained plenty of written information in most display cabinets. There is an impressive selection of armour, swords, muskets and cannons backed by the history of these turbulent times. Staterooms , Armoury !

Date of experience: October 2018
Thank redsgothenburg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 October 2018 via mobile

My son particularly liked this. It was interesting and well presented and like other buildings was surprisingly huge inside

Date of experience: October 2018
Thank Suemo123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 October 2018 via mobile

We went round the grandmasters palace with no audio guide offered to us. It was a struggle to get them for the next stage which was the armoury. Very grumpy and rude staff were markedly in contrast to all the other people we’d met in Valletta who’d been extremely welcoming and friendly.
The visit did not inspire. I would not bother with seeing it.

Date of experience: October 2018
Thank Stan C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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